Constant connection.

Photo by Andrew Guan 

I love my phone. It keeps me connected to my family and friends, it keeps me aware of current events, it provides me with inspiration whenever I might need it, and it gives me instant access to interesting [or deliciously useless] information. I hate my phone for all of the same reasons.


>>> Personal phone history: Most of my friends got a phone in 2001, right after 9/11. Our high school was just outside Manhattan, so a lot of parents wanted their kids to have one for emergencies. At that point I really didn’t care whether I got one, and since I was rarely by myself, my parents figured it wasn’t necessary. Cut to December 2004 when cell phones became MUCH more common– I wanted one pretty bad and my parents very kindly obliged. They gave me a cuuute silver flip-phone for my birthday. Loved that thing! All you could really do with it was call, text, calculate, and play games. It was simpler then. Picture it with me, folks. Anyway, about 5 years later, I got my first smartphone and I’d say that’s when the love/hate relationship really began.<<<


When I contemplate my cell phone usage, I remind myself of the fact that I existed without one for 17 years, and without a smartphone for even longer. I also think about what that really means. What is it that I really went without until then? The main thing that comes to mind is constant connection.

While I am very grateful that my loved ones and I are so available to each other [for support, for emergencies, and for FUN], being constantly connected to them gets really overwhelming for me sometimes. My current struggles with this:

  • I feel guilty if I don’t answer in a timely manner, so it feels like I’m always texting in order to stay caught up. I don’t want to be on my phone that much, so finding a good balance has proven tough for me.
  • It can be tiring to be part of multiple conversations at once, and I get very invested when it comes to my friends and family. It’s important to me that each person knows that I’ve really heard them. So, I often wait until I can fully pay attention and respond thoughtfully. This sometimes causes a pile-up of open threads that leave me feeling kind of anxious.
  • Just the thought of being available to so many people [and even having them available to me] is overwhelming. I am not so sure that this is a state we should all constantly be in.
Photo by israel palacio 

I have instant access to information. Whenever I want to, I can hop on my phone and see what’s currently unfolding in the world. If I’d like, I can read and learn ALL about the mechanics or the history of- well, almost anything. It is absolutely fantastic, but there is a degree of pressure that comes along with it for me. My thinking is that because I have so much valuable information available to me, I feel like I should be accessing it often. I do take advantage of it, but I’m always asking myself if it’s enough. Uncle Ben’s quote “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind. There is so much power and knowledge at my fingertips 24/7, but do I use it well and responsibly?

Some might read all of this and think “wow, she’s thinking about this waaaay too much.” I don’t think I am. I believe everyone should be giving at least some degree of thought to how they use their technology each day. For me, there always seems to be an ebb and flow when it comes to my phone usage. I’ll get a handle on it for a time, but then it just gets away from me and I’m forced to have this conversation with myself and reign it back in again. I hope that I’ll eventually find the secret sauce for this but until that time comes, I will keep questioning and experimenting.

Really, at the end of the day, this a terrific problem to solve.

=)

Keeping it light.

Part of what inspired me to write this was another post on the blog Untangled called “My mind is tired of mindfulness“. It’s a great, short read; go for it!


I ponder over my personal development a lot (hence this blog), and I know I’m just one of many. It’s no wonder that this is the case considering “Personal Development” and “Productivity” and “Life Hacking” and aaaall that jazz is enormously popular these days. Bestsellers about nurturing effective habits crop up [what feels like] every other week, articles on powerful morning routines seem to publish every hour, and blog posts about all of the above are popping up more and more frequently (like this one!).

Once a person starts down the road of personal development (there’s that phrase again!), mindfulness, and other things of that nature, it can become difficult to stop. Some of what you’ll read and hear all over this realm are things like:

Consistency is key.

Good habits form when you make small changes every day.

You will see a difference when you are willing to put in the work.

Consistency. Every day. Work.

I’ll state the obvious here… I don’t disagree with any of these statements. I’m simply pointing to the fact that it’s not a wonder that people get swept up in this stuff so quickly, or that they feel guilty and maybe a little paranoid when they give it a rest. If you break the consistency, if you break your streak, if you stop the work for X amount of time, will you immediately slide back and find yourself stuck again? That’s a question I’ve certainly asked myself and to be honest, I do think that sometimes the answer is yes. For me, that will have to be okay.

Some may disagree, of course, which is great. Everyone has different circumstances and goals, everyone processes change differently, and everyone works at different paces and in different ways (even if all these differences are subtle). All of us cannot possibly be on the same exact page when it comes to something so personal as personal development.

Photo by Carolyn V 

I just need a break from it sometimes, and it’s really as simple as that. I’m the type of person that turns inward very easily, and if I spend too much time there, things start to get very exhausting and fuzzy. As long as my breaks (ranging from an hour to a day to a couple days) are completely intentional, I am golden. If I start to let things slip a little bit at a time, day after day, without thinking and without having a reason behind it, that’s when trouble ensues-but I won’t get into that. Today, I’m choosing to keep it light! And now I think I’ll go make a nice cup of tea like the one in this really pretty photo.

=)

Why I’ve kept myself from setting goals.

Photo by Bekir Dönmez

For most of my life, I’d never been one to set big goals or “dream big”. In a journal entry a few weeks ago, I asked myself flat-out why I think that is. I was able to clarify at least a couple of reasons, and I’d like to share them. Perhaps others can relate!

  1. Envy. Until my early to mid-20s, which is when I began to gain some wisdom in this area, I always envied people that had “a lot” – a lot of money, a big gorgeous home, great beauty, great confidence, great talent, etc. The envy ran pretty deep and it is only recently that I realized how much I let it control me. Though I never begrudged anyone their happiness or good fortune, I put them on a very high pedestal in my mind. The gap I felt between myself and “them” widened over time and it ended up feeling like more of a weight. In my misguided attempt to lift this weight, I guess I somehow convinced myself that I would simply never have what they had. I convinced myself that those people were just lucky, I wasn’t, and that was that. I wouldn’t even let myself imagine what it would feel like to have what they had (and I specifically remember saying that so many times- “wow, I can’t even IMAGINE!”). It’s not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t. [Important sidenote: I have fantastic, supportive parents. They never, ever told me that anything was out of my reach. Introvert that I am – I hardly expressed or discussed the envy that I had with anyone for so long, out of embarrassment maybe (?) or to preserve my pride (?), so I think it just quietly chipped away at a part of me.]
  2. Depression. I’m prone to it, and one of the symptoms is the inability to clearly envision a future. I believe this symptom, which I’ve experienced MANY times in various depressive slumps, managed to stick to my every day thought patterns.
  3. Overthinking. This one is sort of related to the other two, but I felt it was worth clarifying. If I have the beginnings of an idea about my future and what I could possibly do with it, I’m able to talk myself out of it pretty quickly. I think about the reasons it may not work and sure enough, I become fearful and want to climb back into my comfort zone.

The abundance other people have has absolutely no bearing on my goal for more abundance in my life. I know this now.

If I hit a depressive slump, I try to journal my thoughts & feelings and keep them confined in there. I remind myself that what I feel during those times isn’t always real; that the depression is hogging my attention. I cannot allow it to follow me.

As for the problem of overthinking: I’m working on it! I’m working on my ability to concentrate and my ability to control my awareness. Like anything else, this takes practice, but I am already reaping the rewards. [I highly recommend this YouTube video about the power of concentration: Dandapani: Controlling Your Awareness]

Gaining clarity on why I haven’t set big goals for myself has been enormously helpful. I’ve been able to combat my unhealthy thought patterns and obstacles because I know exactly what I’m up against. At this point, I can confidently say that envisioning a future and dreaming up great, big, wonderful goals has never felt easier.

=)

Managing my time on weeknights ( + 3 tips ).

One big [entirely self-imposed] obstacle on the road to positive change has been my tendency to let time slip away from me. Today I want to talk about 2 ways this happens, specifically during the week, and how I’ve been trying to fix it.

Historically, my evenings looked a bit like this: I’d get home from work and sit down for a while (problem #1) before making and eating dinner, and then I’d just relax and watch TV (problem #2), and before I knew it… it was 10PM and I’d be tired and basically useless, and bedtime was upon me.

Problem #1: Sitting down when I get home from work. It took a while but I eventually came to terms with that fact that doing this is bad for me. It takes a long time and a lot of willpower for me to get up again once I’ve succumbed to the couch. 20 minutes will fly by as I sit and dinner has yet to be started. I know I am not alone here; I’ve spoken to others like me.

My solution: I keep moving once I’m in the door and I don’t stop until it’s time to eat dinner. I’m already walking, so why break that bit of momentum I have? I put away my stuff, pet Morty (my cat) for a few minutes, and get working on something. Usually it’s emptying the dishwasher and starting on dinner. Making this tiny change has not been difficult and it has had a great impact.

Problem #2: TV, my ultimate time-sucker. I have to control my TV intake during the week or it will surely control me. If it goes on before I’ve started my after-dinner tasks, I’m in trouble. I will just want to stay glued to it and before I know it, 3 hours have passed.

My solution: Now, on most days, the TV stays off ’til around 7:30 or 8PM. I’ve also instituted “No TV Tuesdays.” By doing these things, I’ve freed up a few hours each week to focus on more worthwhile things. (I’m waayyy behind on so many shows now which totally sucks from a TV lover’s standpoint, but at least I’m being a more productive adult, right?)

Another (and probably my favorite) thing I like to do is set timers for anything and everything. It works as a call-to-action for me and I kinda enjoy racing the clock. Also, knowing there’s a limit keeps me from totally resenting the task at hand because I know there’s an end in sight. If I need to dust, for example (important when you have a cat), I’ll set a 10-20 minute timer and then go be a dustin’ fool. And BONUS: I’ve usually built up so much momentum by the time the alarm sounds that I’ll just continue for a while or I’ll easily move on to something else.

These are small changes but over the course of a couple months, they have totally made a difference. It no longer feels like time is constantly disappearing from me, and I consider that a very big win.

=)

Stalled.

I was so motivated and focused all of last week and through the weekend. I felt generally hopeful, I felt like my creative juices were flowing; I was generally buzzing.

Today, I woke up feeling … none of that. It all just dissolved. Nothing happened between last night and this morning to trigger this (I mean, was asleep). I woke up, and I just felt like I’d suddenly stalled.

When this happens, and it happens to me quite often, I nearly always spiral. The cruddy thoughts slither in and they just keep on slitherin’…

“Told you it wouldn’t last.”

“This always happens.”

“Your motivation always fizzles out. Always. Why are you even surprised?

Admittedly, I’ve grown accustomed to listening to these thoughts when they pop up. It sucks. It is also the #1 reason that I’ve always found it very hard to make changes in my life. Big or small. The second I stall, I allow my awareness to focus on the fact that I’ve stalled, and then I just turn inward and drown in my cruddy self-talk.

I will not give out tips on how to deal with this. I’m slowly finding ways, and I would love to share them some other time, but that isn’t the point of this post. I wanted to write about this simply because it happened. Finding my way to a better self requires that I continue coming terms with my bullshit whenever it presents itself.

=)

Dear journals.

By the time I turned 30, I had a collection of about 9 journals. Between the 9 journals, spanning 20-ish years, I’d say there was maybe 13 full pages of actual writing.

I was 6 or 7 when I got my first diary. Part of what made me want to start in the first place was the romanticism I saw in it. I’d see girls in movies lying on their bed with their diary, pouring their hearts out onto the page. It looked like so much fun! It was like a club that I wanted to be a part of.

So many pretty journals later, the habit just wasn’t sticking. Part of my problem was that I’d sit down to write, and I’d think way too hard about what I was writing. I wanted to sound elegant and mature and interesting. It’s as if I expected someone to read it at some point, and I wanted them to be impressed. For these reasons, the practice never felt authentic or helpful to me, so I kept giving up.

I’d nearly given up on the idea of ever being a person who journals when out of nowhere, last September, I had a breakthrough. One day, I was feeling so bogged down by my thoughts and emotions that I grabbed a legal pad and just started listing each one. I didn’t overthink, I just listed. It looked a something like this:

  • I feel so out of control
  • I am so tired, I haven’t slept well in a week
  • I have no physical energy but my mind is racing
  • I feel so overwhelmed by all of the things we need to do for the wedding
  • Why can’t I get a grip? Where did this come from?
  • I wish I could just run away and be completely alone for a few days
  • What can I do to make this better?
  • Should I talk to my mom about it? She’s already stressed, I don’t want to burden her.

I think I took up about 4 full legal pad pages.

I’d been doing “mind-sweeps” every so often for months before that (à la GTD) but that was always for tasks that needed accomplishing. It never occurred to me to use it in this way. I felt so inspired! From that point on, I would sit down almost every day and write in this way. I’d simply list my feelings and never gave a crap about how I sounded. After a while, I gradually moved from listing to writing more traditional entries. Though I do still like to use the list technique from time to time, especially when I’m feeling mentally clogged.

It took years for me to hear my inner voice and just let her rip. She’s not always forthcoming, though. Sometimes the words don’t seem to come, but it’s okay. If that happens, I’ll simply write something like “I don’t have much to say, I’m feeling a bit blank at the moment. I wonder why that is.” I never force it. And that’s the key for me, it seems.

=)

Starting somewhere.

Yesterday at work, I had to get up to do something after I’d been sitting at the computer for roughly 30 mins straight. Truthfully, I barely remember the task I needed to get up to accomplish, but I do remember the energy it took to get out of the damn chair. I also remember the thoughts going through my head right before I got up. I’d been trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up just then…

“You can probably just do it later, it doesn’t need to get done now.”

“Maybe you can ask so-and-so to do it, it doesn’t really have to be you.”

“I am just tired, I didn’t sleep very well last night, I should give myself a break!”

Wow. It’s remarkable what my brain will come up with to keep me from doing things that I have to do. Is it laziness? Some might call it that, but I don’t. I know lazy, I’ve been lazy, and these instances are not instances of lazy for me. It is a fear of beginning. No matter how simple the task, no matter how quickly it can be completed, I just don’t want to begin it because it’s new and it’s different from the now.

I launched myself out of the chair with so much force; it felt as if the chair itself came alive and was throwing me off of it. I said “OH SHUT UP” to those hesitant, fearful thoughts buzzing around my mind and forced myself up. And then everything was fine. The whole experience was probably about 8 seconds from start to finish, but it stuck with me because it is such a perfect example of beginnings.

I want this blog to be a genuine reflection and expression of one person launching themselves up and out of their comfort zones (of which there are many) in order to change into the person they want to be. It’s happening little by little, but it is happening.

=)

Life in the slow lane.

Photo by Red Zeppelin

Change happens slowly over time for most people, from what I’ve read and heard and seen. For whatever reason, though, I feel like I’m slower to change than most (feel being the operative word, I suppose).

I’m in my early 30s and only now have I begun to evolve in the ways I really want to evolve. Is it for lack of trying, or lack of self-awareness? Absolutely not, friend.

In this tiny corner of the internet, I’ll talk about my ongoing, frustratingly slow journey to becoming the person I’d like to be and how [great/shitty] it feels along the way. I’ll cover the fizzle-out moments, those delicious renewed-sense-of-purpose moments, the feeling-like-I-have-NO-purpose moments, the overwhelm, the small revelations, etc.

But why does this need to be is a blog?

Short answer: because I myself would love to read about someone else on a similar path, who feels the way I do, and how they go about dealing with it day after day. I have to assume at least a few other people would too.

=)